I have written recently of my love for the Scriptures and of growing out of the “baby stage” of following Christ. With that said, I would like to say that the gospel itself, the “good news” about Jesus, is not difficult to understand. In 1 Corinthians 15 we find a quick outline of that gospel: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (vv 3-4, NASB).
All of us have stepped away from who God designed us to be. We, the created, have chosen our own way. I know because I’ve done it. We follow our own desires, and we serve our own needs. Yes, we also come through for others. God has left His mark on all mankind, so that we internally know good from evil. Still, we choose wrongly many times. Greed, self-promotion, self-protection, jealousy–we all go there. Some of us do so inwardly, and some of us carry it all the way through to our actions, but whether in thought or in action, we all go there.
Being who He is, God is completely pure and unchanged by our self-serving nature. He is Holy, that is, “set apart.” He is “apart” from our self-centeredness (called sin). As much as He loves us and wants a relationship with us, our self-centeredness, our sin, keeps us from His holy nature.
So God sent His Son Jesus to die for all those things we put between us and Him. Through Jesus all those things are put to death and the barriers between us and God are broken. We saw God’s power when He raised Jesus from the grave. Jesus was not just some martyr for a good cause, but Lord of everything, including our sin.
God has asked us to believe in Jesus’ work on our behalf. He has asked us to follow Jesus’ example with our lives, and that involves getting to know who Jesus is, and allowing Him to change our lives to be more like His. That is the simple gospel. There are model prayers you can pray to get started, but it’s not about the prayer. It’s about choosing to leave behind a self-centered lifestyle, and to move into a Christ-centered life. It is a decision to follow Christ and trust in His work on the cross for your self-centeredness (sin). The prayer asking God’s forgiveness is the starting point. A total makeover awaits. You won’t be perfect when you commit to this journey. You will become more like Christ as you learn from Him. You will learn what pleases Him (previous post), and God will give you His Holy Spirit to help you do it (future post).
If I may end with an example, check out the book of Philippians in the Bible, chapter 3. In verses 1-6 the Apostle Paul gives all kinds of reasons why he could brag about being an important citizen of his day. Then he turns a corner in verses 7-11 and gives it all up for something better:
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Paul states that he has lost everything that made him “important” so that he could be found in Christ. Paul’s identity is in knowing Christ and in being found in Him. That is a powerful, yet simple concept. It is the concept that changed my life many years ago, and I am still pursuing it today. It is the gospel lived out.
Christ is my focus.
Christ is my identity.
Everything else hinges on these two facts. I am a follower of Him.
Since I like to post a song with my blog, here is a link to a song by my favorite band, Third Day. The song is called “Creed,” and it expresses what Christians through the ages have believed about the Christian faith.